Feb 17, 2011 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
What was gained by the Jordan-Elbridge girls basketball team Thursday night had an immediate benefit – and could prove a long-term benefit, too, as the Section III Class B playoffs loom.
On a loud, raucous Senior Night in front of a packed home gym of partisans, the state Class B no. 20-ranked Eagles denied no. 10-ranked Cazenovia an undefeated regular season, beating the Lakers 50-40 with superb defense and a triple-double of 21 points, 12 blocks and 10 rebounds from junior center Molly Hourigan.
“We were all pumped up and excited for this game, and we gave a great effort,” said Hourigan.
J-E had waited for more than a month to get another shot at Cazenovia. The first time they had met, on Jan. 13 at Buckley Gym, the game was close in the fourth quarter when Hourigan got sidelined with a leg injury – and the Lakers promptly pulled away to win 52-39.
That the rematch went in the other direction, almost to the letter, was partially because Hourigan stayed on the court the whole time – but mostly because the Eagles’ 2-3 zone exasperated, and then exhausted, Cazenovia, especially in the latter stages.
Six seniors – Natalie Andrianos, Kali Davis, Kelsey Richardson, Liz Herrling, Erin McLaughiln and Ella Thorpe – received their pre-game honors, but it did nothing to lessen the Eagles’ focus as it jumped out to a 20-12 lead early in the second quarter.
Led by Raeanne Clabeaux, who would finish with 19 points, the Lakers fought back, pulling within two, 26-24, at halftime, then moving out in front 30-26 in the third period as, early in that frame, Hourigan picked up her third foul.
Despite this, Hourigan stayed out on the court, and would never get that fourth foul. “I never lost hope,” she said. “I just kept fighting and playing smarter to avoid fouls.”
Meanwhile, J-E head coach Leslie Ahern used a time-out in the middle of that third period. She said that she told her players that everyone had to step up, especially on the defensive side – and they did.
For a nine-minute stretch, lasting deep into the fourth quarter, J-E allowed just one field goal. And its best job was done containing Cazenovia senior Ashley Stec, who had just two points all night. Hourigan combined with Andrianos, Richardson and McLaughlin, each of them taking turns in the paint harassing Stec into wild shots and grabbing the boards to prevent second-chance opportunities.
Despite all this, the Eagles only led 43-40 with less than 2:30 to play. Then Hourigan hit on back-to-back shots, with a couple of blocks in between to fill out her triple-double, to make it 47-40, and Andrianos and Davis sank three free throws in the final minute to put it away. All told, Davis had nine points, with Andrianos contributing eight points.
This win means that J-E (16-2) is the likely no. 3 seed for the Section III Class B playoffs – with Cazenovia (17-1) the no. 2 seed behind top seed South Jefferson, who is still unbeaten at 17-0. That means a possible third Eagles-Lakers showdown in the sectional semifinals, should the seeds hold.
Ahern said that, at this same time a season ago (when the Eagles reached the sectional finals), “we stepped up at the end. I hope we have that same kind of run this time.”